20 Things To Do In Nayarit (Mexico)

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Nayarit is a hidden gem on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, known for its stunning coastline, lush jungles and vibrant culture. With a rich history and abundant natural beauty, Nayarit offers a diverse range of activities and attractions, from Sayulita’s peaceful and pristine beaches to the towering cliffs surrounding Santa Maria del Oro lake.

This state in Mexico is also home to crocodiles, whales and sea turtles, making it a paradise for nature lovers. Nayarit is also famous for its traditional cacao ceremonies, macrame workshops, and vibrant capital, Tepic. The Nayarit Riviera is poised to become a top destination in Mexico, with development underway to turn it into a luxury beach haven. Visit now and experience this piece of paradise before the secret gets out. Here are some things to do in Nayarit, Mexico. 

Nayarit, Mexico

Top Tours

20 Things To Do In Nayarit

1- Set Off On A Pacific Coastline Road Trip

riviera nayarit sign
Riviera Nayarit is popular for its beaches.

Buckle up and hit the road on a coastal road trip adventure along the Riviera Nayarit.

Cruising along the Pacific coast, take in stunning views of glittering gold-tinted beaches and swaying palms and stop by charming fishing villages.

When the sun starts to dip below the horizon, find a scenic spot to watch one of the most breathtaking sunsets you’ll ever see.

Grab your friends, rent a car, hit the road and get ready for a journey filled with sun, sand and adventure.

2- Snorkel And Scuba Dive At Los Arcos Marine Park

sea and islands in the national park with a small boat
Exploring Los Arcos National Marine Park is another thing to do in the state of Nayarit.

If you’re ready to explore underwater Nayarit, look no further than Los Arcos Marine Park.

Just a short boat ride from the mainland, Los Arcos offers crystal-clear waters teeming with marine life and over 20 dive sites, each offering a unique experience.

Whether you’re a seasoned underwater explorer or taking your first plunge, Los Arcos Marine Park is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the underwater world of Nayarit.

Check out this scuba diving tour. 

3- Hike On A Jungle Adventure

riviera nayarit
A jungle adventure is one of the fun activities in Nayarit, Mexico.

If you’re seeking adventure and excitement, head into Nayarit’s jungle.

Begin your jungle adventure at the end of the main beach of Playa Malpasos just north of Sayulita, where the trailhead starts that will take you into a world full of vibrant colours, scents and sounds!

With every step, you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline.

Keep an eye out for monkeys and other exotic wildlife as you make your way through the jungle!

Your journey will end in the charming town of San Pancho, where you can rest and reflect on your amazing experience.

Here are a couple of exciting ways to explore the jungle:

4- Admire Breathtaking Sunsets At San Pancho

san blas nayarit at dusk
Port of San Blas on the Nayarit Riviera. Mexico.

If you go on a jungle hike, you’ll have arrived at one of the Riviera Nayarit’s hidden gems, the charming town of San Pancho.

Tucked away under the low sierras, about 31 miles (50 km) north of Puerto Vallarta, this cobbled road town is a treasure trove of cantinas and surf shacks.

San Pancho is most known for its breathtaking sunsets and the best spot to watch one is at the south end of the bay, where you’ll find surfers catching the last waves of the day and the silhouettes of palm trees against the backdrop of the setting sun.

You may like to join this tour: Discover The Colors Of Sayulita & San Pancho.

5- Watch Baby Turtles Take Their First Steps

Hatched baby turtles on the beach
Another amazing activity in Nayarit is to watch the hatchlings return to the sea.

Releasing baby sea turtles into the ocean is a truly heart-warming and memorable experience.

If you’re visiting Nayarit, you’re in luck, as there are several places along the coastline where you can participate in this natural event. 

One of the best places to release baby sea turtles is the Marietas Islands.

This breathtaking archipelago is located off the coast of Nayarit and is home to an array of fascinating wildlife, including several species of sea turtles.

The best time to witness the release of hatchlings is from June to December.

You can also find sea turtle release programs in several other locations along the Nayarit coastline, including the towns of Lo de Marcos, San Francisco and San Blas.

Releasing baby sea turtles is an unforgettable experience and a great way to support conservation efforts and protect these magnificent creatures for future generations.

6- Discover Mexico’s Venice, The Magic Town Of Mexcaltitan

The lake island town of Mexcaltitan is often referred to as the ‘Venice of Mexico’ thanks to its waterways and lagoon streets, which are only accessible by boat.

One of the most interesting facts about Mexcaltitan is that it’s said to be the birthplace of the Aztec Empire as it’s believed that the Aztecs, who were nomads at the time, settled here before eventually moving on to found their great empire in what is now Mexico City.

Visitors to Mexcaltitan can take a boat tour of the waterways, observe local fishermen in their traditional canoes and try delicious seafood.

7- Learn A New Skill At A Macrame Workshop

Consider signing up for a macrame workshop if you want to try something new and creative.

Macrame involves knotting rope or string to create beautiful and unique textiles.

It’s a fun and easy activity that anyone can enjoy, regardless of your crafting experience.

In Nayarit, several local artisans and workshops offer macrame classes.

These classes are typically held in the afternoons and provide all the materials you’ll need, including the rope, snacks and drinks.

The friendly and knowledgeable instructor will guide you step-by-step through the process, teaching you various knots and patterns to create your own macrame.

At the end of the workshop, you’ll walk away with a one-of-a-kind macrame piece you made with your own hands.

It’s the perfect memento to take home with you and show off to your friends and family.

8- Go Surfing In Sayulita

two young brothers carrying their surfboards
Going surfing is another thing to do in Nayarit.

Grab your board and hit the waves. Nayarit is the perfect place for surfers of all levels.

Sayulita, a small bohemian beach town in Nayarit, is the perfect spot for beginner surfers.

If you don’t have a board, don’t worry because Sayulita is filled with surf shops that offer board rentals and lessons.

Consider taking a private lesson as it’ll make a big difference to getting your skill level up. 

As you hit the water, feel the thrill of the waves beneath your board and the sun on your face. With each ride, you’ll feel more confident and empowered.

When you’re ready for a break, take a stroll on the beach and soak up the laid-back vibe of Sayulita.

9- Explore The Coral Reefs of Coral Island

Happy man in snorkeling mask dive underwater with tropical fishes in coral reef
One of the top things to do in the Nayarit Riviera is to go snorkelling.

If you’re looking for a fun-filled adventure, a boat trip to Coral Island should be at the top of your bucket list.

As the name suggests, this idyllic paradise is a haven for marine life and boasts some of the most stunning coral reefs in the region.

Whether you’re a seasoned snorkeller or a beginner, you’re in for a treat.

10- Take Part In An Ancient And Traditional Cacao Ceremony

cacao plant
Going on a tour of a cacao plantation is another cool thing to do in Nayarit, Mexico.

Embark on a journey of the senses and delve into indigenous cultural heritage by participating in a traditional cacao ceremony.

Cacao, also known as the ‘food of the gods,’ has been used by indigenous communities for centuries for its medicinal and spiritual properties.

You will be guided by a local shaman who will lead you through the process of drinking the sacred cacao beverage, often blended with spices and other ingredients to enhance its effects.

During the ceremony, you will be invited to sit in quiet reflection, breathe deeply and let the cacao work its magic.

You can typically find cacao ceremonies at local wellness centres, retreats and spas or by booking with a local tour operator.

A cacao ceremony is a unique experience and a must-try for anyone looking to delve into the culture and spirituality of Mexico.

11- Go Snorkelling At Islas Marietas

Strap on your snorkel gear and dive into the crystal-clear waters surrounding the secluded archipelago of Islas Marietas.

The islands are renowned for their stunning landscape and unique geological formations, making them a must-visit for any adventure seeker.

Schools of colourful fish, giant manta rays and sea turtles are just a few of the many species you may encounter.

Keep an eye out for the various species of birds that call Islas Marietas their home too.

The highlight of a snorkelling experience on Isla Marietas is swimming through the famous ‘Hidden Beach,’ a sheltered lagoon surrounded by towering cliffs.

With breathtaking scenery, diverse wildlife and a serene atmosphere, it’s no wonder this beautiful archipelago is one of the most popular destinations for snorkellers in Nayarit.

Here are some tours you may like:

12- See Crocodiles In Their Natural Habitat

Image of a crocodile on the grass.
Seeing crocodiles is one of the exciting things to do in Nayarit.

If you’re looking for a unique and exciting activity for the whole family, El Cora Crocodile Sanctuary is the place to learn about nature and wildlife.

At El Cora, you’ll have the opportunity to see a variety of crocodiles up close, from babies to full-grown adults.

Knowledgeable guides will provide you with fascinating facts about these magnificent creatures, and you’ll learn all about their behaviour, habitat and conservation.

Not only is this a fun and educational experience, but it’s also a chance to appreciate and respect these powerful animals.

El Cora Crocodile sanctuary is at Bucerias Carretera Puerto Vallarta-Tepic Bucerías, 63735 Nuevo Vallarta, Nayarit.

13- Visit A Fishing Village Only Accessible By Boat

Set sail on a cruise to the picturesque fishing village of Yelapa in Banderas Bay, only accessible by boat.

The journey to Yelapa is half the fun.

As you sail through the bay, soak up the sun and take in the stunning views of the coastline while keeping an eye out for dolphins and whales.

Once you arrive, the breathtaking view of the mountains, crystal-clear waters and lush greenery will make you feel like you have stepped into a tropical paradise.

The village of Yelapa is known for its friendly locals and laid-back vibe.

Take a stroll through the small village, admire the colourful houses and visit the local artisan markets.

There are also several pristine beaches where you can relax, soak up the sun, explore the lush jungle, and swim in the waterfall. Find out more here

14- Scale The Heights Of Monkey Mountain

If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure in Nayarit, look no further than Monkey Mountain.

This rugged peak, just outside Sayulita, offers breathtaking views and a fun challenge for climbers of all levels.

The ascent to the top of Monkey Mountain is memorable, winding through dense jungle and surrounded by exotic flora and fauna.

Keep an eye out for the monkeys that give the mountain its name, as they can often be seen swinging through the trees overhead.

The summit is a broad plateau, offering plenty of space to catch your breath and take in the scenery.

The fun doesn’t end at the top, either.

On the way back down, adventurous climbers can try their hand at rappelling to descend the sheer cliffs of Monkey Mountain with a thrilling rush of adrenaline. Find out more here

15- Camp Beside A Crater Lake

Camping at Santa Maria del Oro lake inside a crater is an experience you won’t forget. 

This legendary lake is a hidden gem that promises a unique and unforgettable camping adventure.

Nestled within a volcanic crater, the lake is surrounded by towering cliffs, providing a stunning backdrop to your camping trip.

The crystal-clear waters of the lake are perfect for swimming, fishing and kayaking, making this a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Come on and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and allow you to truly immerse yourself in nature.

16- Marvel At The Majesty Of Whales

Whale watching boat tour
Going on a whale-watching tour is one of the fantastic things to do in Nayarit, Mexico.

Every year, humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the warm waters of Banderas Bay, where they mate, give birth and nurse their young.

The good news is that the Riviera Nayarit coastline is one of the best places in the world to see these magnificent creatures up close.

You’ll have to plan your visit between December and March if you don’t want to miss your chance to see these gentle giants in action.

A whale-watching tour can be booked with one of the local operators leaving from Nuevo Vallarta, who will take you out on a boat for an up-close encounter with the whales.

Your guide will educate you on these fascinating creatures, sharing interesting facts and stories about their behaviour.

You may even be lucky enough to hear the haunting songs of the humpback whales, a unique experience you’ll never forget.

17- Tee Off With A Round Of Golf With A View

golf course tropical palm trees
Golf is a top attraction to visit Nayarit in Mexico.

The region is a golfer’s paradise with its scenic landscape and year-round warm weather.

From ocean-front courses to jungle-covered hills, the area offers a wide range of options for players of all skill levels.

One of the must-play courses in the region is the El Tigre Golf Course, an 18-hole championship course surrounded by lush jungle and known for its challenging fairways and stunning views of the Bay of Banderas.

The Vista Vallarta Golf Course is the place to be for those looking for a challenge.

This 18-hole championship course is designed by legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus and is considered one of the best courses in Mexico.

18- Explore The Vibrant State Capital, Tepic

Tepic, the charming capital of Nayarit, is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a fun-filled day out.

With a rich history and plenty of cultural landmarks, Tepic is a vibrant city that offers a little bit of everything.

For starters, take a stroll through the city’s historic centre, and admire Tepic Cathedral, one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.

If you’re a fan of museums, don’t miss the Museo de las Culturas de Nayarit, which showcases the diverse indigenous cultures of the region.

The museum is also home to a vast collection of pre-Columbian artefacts, including pottery, jewellery and textiles.

Whether you’re interested in history, culture or want to soak up the local atmosphere, Tepic is sure to provide a fun and memorable day.

  • Tepic Cathedral is located at: Av. México Nte. 246, Centro, 63000 Tepic, Nay.
  • Museo de las Culturas de Nayarit is located at Av. México Nte. 91, Centro, 63000 Tepic, Nay.

19- Cast Your Fishing Line

Grab your rod, reel and tackle box and get ready to cast your line into the beautiful waters of Nayarit.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a first-timer, the waters off the coast of Nayarit are teeming with many fish species, making it a great place to reel in that big one.

For the ultimate fishing experience, consider taking a guided tour on a charter boat equipped with all the necessary gear so that all you have to do is show up and cast a line.

With experienced local captains at the helm, you’re sure to find the best fishing spots and catch more fish than you ever imagined.

The sailfish is one of the most popular fish to catch in Nayarit.

These magnificent creatures are known for their incredible speed and agility and can reach lengths of up to ten feet (3 m).

20- Ride Across The Longest Suspension Bridge In The World

If you live for the thrills, this one’s for you: an ATV ride across the Jorullo Swinging Bridge – the longest suspension bridge in the world.

Picture yourself, helmet on, revving up the engine of your ATV and making your way across this swaying bridge.

With every bump and turn, you’ll feel the rush of excitement as you cross over the lush green jungle and crystal clear streams below.

As you reach the other side, you’ll be greeted by the stunning beauty of the Nayarit jungle.

Take a break from your ATV and hike, where you’ll discover hidden waterfalls and sparkling rivers!

The Jorullo Swinging Bridge is a must-visit for anyone seeking a unique and exciting adventure in Nayarit. So gear up and get ready for the ride of your life.

The Jorullo Swinging Bridge is at Camino Los Llanito km. 4.5 Los Almacenes, 48373 Puerto Vallarta. Find out more about it here. 

nayarit map
The state of Nayarit in Mexico may be small but you’ll find some delightful experiences here.
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Jane Williams is a writer living in Mexico. Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, she has visited over 30 countries and lived in Japan for two years. Passionate about culture and history, her fascination for ancient civilisations has led to her to explore the world's iconic sites, such as Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat. Even though she loves uncovering the secrets of the past, she feels equally at home exploring contemporary culture. A mother of two with a degree in anthropology, she enjoys sharing her travel adventures with others.